Ravens Q&A with Aaron Wilson

A regular feature on Ravens Insider this season will be the weekly Q&A with Ravens Insider/Carroll County Times writer Aaron Wilson. This is where members of the RavensInsider message board get to ask pertinent questions about our Baltimore Ravens and Aaron gets to provides the correct answers.

Question: In your opinion, how many games will Boller play before they have to land a Medivac on the field and airlift him to shock-trauma?
Seriously: For those of us who are not adept at catching all the little stuff during the game; how much of Boller getting clobbered on every other snap was due to the o-line being horrible, or Boller not calling appropriate protections, or the RB's not picking up blitzers?
Answer: Kyle Boller is a sturdy young quarterback, but he absolutely can't continue to absorb those big shots every week and hope to make it through the entire season. Identifying the exact nuance of where the pass protection is breaking down is complicated. In the latest game, Ravens coach Brian Billick said a lot of the problem is the backs. He specifically without naming Chester Taylor noted that he pushed an offensive lineman out of the way inadvertently on the play where Boller's pass was tipped and intercepted. Boller has admitted that he has not gone to his "hot" route quickly or often enough, not using his safety valves. The offensive line at times has just been flat or inadequate. They are highly motivated to protect their quarterback. Perhaps some of the players aren't quick enough or the timing is off. I think the offense misses fullback Alan Ricard's pass blocking. He was excellent at picking up blitzes. It's a major problem and the No. 1 point of emphasis for the team other than Boller making better reads and getting starters Jamal Lewis, Todd Heap and Peter Boulware ready for the opener after not playing this entire month.
Question: I'm seriously concerned about the danger to Kyle and whomever comes in for him. Are there any 'upgrades' out there available at this point?
My real question: is the horrendous pass protection the reason we haven't seen Anderson out there? I was thinking maybe they don't dare put a rookie behind center in a live game.

Answer: There are no upgrades on the street that could help. You could make an argument for Ross Verba, but his attitude is pretty high and mighty, a rare prima-donna party animal blocker. I think they would pass. The reason why Derek Anderson hasn't been playing is he blew it essentially. He was given a chance against the Falcons and he blew it. If Kyle Boller or Anthony Wright get hurt, they would sign another quarterback, a veteran. If they would risk Boller and Wright, why not risk Anderson. Prediction: He takes a lot of lumps Thursday against the Redskins to preserve Boller and Wright.
Question: Aaron, from your observation of the Raven's receivers what do you think of the battle between Mark Clayton and Clarence Moore? How many wideouts do you think we'll carry this year? And finally, will Todd Heap be back on the field against the 'skins this coming week? Thank you very much.
Answer: I think Mark Clayton could eventually overtake Clarence Moore. I think you'll carry exactly five wide receivers on the active roster. Todd Heap is expected to play a few snaps against the Redskins.
Question: Aaron (thanks in advance)
I'm seeing 'shades of years gone by' meaning our receivers (WRs & TEs) running routes 2-3 yards short of the first down marker and coming up short of the first down!
Is this a result of the design of the routes, poor execution of the route running or KB was just so rushed he had to throw the ball early?
Answer: The routes are accelerated because of the pressure. I have noticed the receivers bunching up too much and maybe not stemming their routes properly to create maximum separation. A little decent play-action wouldn't hurt from the quarterback, either.
Question: Aaron, any possibility of going back to 2 TE's. That may give Boller more protection. If the defense plays 8 man fronts, we should have Mason and Moore or Clayton 1 on 1? If not, how are we going to address this horribly pathetic offensive line?
Answer: The so-called "U" formation could make a return. A blocking tight end like Terry Jones' presence could give Boller some more time.
Question: Aaron-- are the ravens prepared to go with AW if Boller needs a benching or will they look into bringing in a veteran QB?
specifically, will the ravens look at bringing Tim Couch or maybe another VET QB to Baltimore?
Answer: Anthony Wright is the top option if Boller falters or gets hurt. I doubt they bring in a veteran unless there's an injury. They still have Kordell Stewart's phone number, so he could be an alternative.
Question: How concerned is the coaching staff with Boller's apparent regression in mechanics and decision-making displayed during the past three games?
Will we see the offense return to emphasizing the run once the regular season begins and Jamal is ready to return to the field?
Answer: They're very concerned, but hopeful that he'll play better with improved pass protection. At this point, the offense will likely be very run-heavy until or if this pass blocking crisis is over.
Question: Aaron, it has been reported by the Sun's Mike Preston and Chris Mortenson that Jamal Lewis didn't play on Friday due to protest over a potential Franchise Tag. To your knowledge, is this true at all? Also do you see Devard Darling making the squad? Is there a reason for his lack of PT this preseason?
Thanks for doing this. It is greatly appreciated.
Answer: I don't know if Jamal Lewis didn't play because he's protesting the franchise tag that the organization might place on him after the season. I do know he doesn't act like he wants to play in the preseason until he's absolutely healthy. I doubt it's completely money-related and is more just wanting to be completely healthy. We've yet to see the organization deny the story, so who knows if it's true or not. I do think he's headed for the franchise tag, not an extension. I've done a few roster projections and it's between Devard Darling, Mike Smith and a kickoff specialist (Wade Richey?) to be named for the final couple spots.  
Question: Will Todd Heap ever play again?
Answer: Yes, his career isn't over. They are just being careful with him after ankle and shoulder surgeries. Honestly, the Ravens spent $30 million on Todd Heap. Why would they do that if they didn't think he would ever play again?
Question: How does Boulware look? Will he play any against the Redskins this week?
Answer: We haven't seen Boulware do much other than individual drills. He seems to be fine. The plan is for him to play in nickel situations in the first half. That could mean five to six snaps Thursday at M&T Bank Stadium for Boulware, his first game action since December 2003 when he hurt his knee.
Question: Aaron, thank you as always!
In the past, we have had that un-drafted rookie that surprises everyone, B.J. Sams, Will Demps. Who will it be this year, or will there be anyone at all? Thanks!
Answer: I think Zach Norton has a shot to make the team. He's a first-year player, but technically a rookie in my book since he didn't play all last year because of a shoulder injury. Don't rule out B.J. Ward for the practice squad.
Question: This preseason I've heard it mentioned that teams are blitzing or rushing the Ravens more and more right up the middle instead of off the edge.
Is this because other teams perceive that we have weaknesses at the interior lineman positions?
Will the Ravens be moving Boller around in the pocket more to attack this?
Should Boller be taking off and using his running ability more often? And kind of related to that question: Are the coaches forcing him to stay in the pocket because he seemed to take off and run too much last year?
Answer: Center Mike Flynn isn't as mobile as Casey Rabach and teams have shot gaps against him. Keydrick Vincent is getting accustomed to the Ravens' system, and Edwin Mulitalo has been out while dealing with his father's death. Brian Rimpf has struggled at times in Mulitalo's place. They have yet to unveil any plans for increased rollouts. Boller should learn to duck and run more often. He also needs to slide when it's time to get down to avoid hits.
Question: Thanks Aaron,
I haven't heard anything about Samari Rolle being officially suspended yet, is there a chance that he may not be suspended or maybe suspended later in the year?
Answer: The NFL is likely to announce a suspension before the Indianapolis game. Samari Rolle said today that he's still waiting to hear from the league. He has a lawyer to help him with this along with the Ravens' counsel. It's likely he will be suspended for the first game judging from how the NFL handled Brad Hopkins' recent domestic violence plea bargain and one-game suspension. There's precedent and they typically stick with it. There don't seem to be extenuating circumstances that could shift the case in Rolle's favor unless his lawyer has a compelling argument we haven't heard.
Question: Aaron, Do you see Dwan Edwards fitting in with the D-line year? He got a coverage sack against the Saints but I haven't seen much of him besides that.
Answer: Rex Ryan has been really upbeat about Dwan Edwards' showing since the Philadelphia game. He said he's running well to the football and in much better shape. I see him as an unspectacular, solid rotation guy who still has some upside, but will probably never emerge as an impact player. They could have probably drafted him in the third or fourth round last year.
Question: How is Dan Cody doing?
Answer: He's off crutches and likely headed for surgery. I see injured reserve in his future. I doubt putting him on the physically unable to perform list to begin the season will translate into him playing this year.
Question: The Ravens depth chart has Thatcher Szalay ahead of Jason Brown
How do you see this situation turning out?
Answer: I think Jason Brown will wind up winning out. He's a fourth-round pick and has a lot of promise. Don't count this kid out. He's going to be a player in this league.
Question: Thanks  Although the Ravens secondary has been highly touted as the most dominant in the league by many pundits, it appears right off the bat that injuries could cause some major problems. How severe are the recent injuries to Samari Rolle, Deion Sanders and Dale Carter, and do you see these injuries as becoming a nagging problem for the Ravens defense this season? And if so, how much will this effect the team's playoff possibilities?
Answer: Samari Rolle's knee injury isn't serious enough that he couldn't play against Indianapolis. What could hold him out is a suspension from the league obviously. Deion Sanders' hamstring injury is minor, but really at 38 there's no minor injuries. The same goes for Dale Carter (back spasms). At some point, depth at cornerback is going to be a problem. It's inevitable and unavoidable at this point.

Aaron Wilson is the chief writer for RavensInsider.Com He is also the Ravens' reporter for the Carroll County Times in Westminster Maryland.

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